Things I hate about books

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My room is 60% books, but there are some things about them I just HATE. Things that grate and annoy and make me want to tear my hair out. I’m sure I could think of more, but this is a starter list.

Love polygons

Pick a guy already! This trope is notorious within Young Adult and Romance, but it’s starting to infect other genres as well. IT MUST STOP. Seriously, it’s a relationship, not ice cream. If you’re conflicted between two, you need to stop sampling one or the other because those are people’s hearts, not Baskin Robins.

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You’ve heard of “love triangles,” now get ready for…”love PENTAGONS!”

Mismatched covers

Just…no. I have several series where the publisher did this mid-series or, worse, end-of-series and it made me want to scream. To this day, it physically hurts me to look at them together.

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I mean…how sick do you have to be to do this?

Differing spine heights

This is done by the same monsters who pulled off the cover style swaps and is no less heinous/agonizing.

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I was appalled when the last two “Shadowmarch” books came in the mail.

Bad writing

Don’t draw me in with a pretty cover, good premise, stellar blurb, then have “flashing eyes” and breaths “she didn’t know she’d been holding” every two pages. Also no willy-nilly “hot” seductions where the characters didn’t even make eye contact until two pages ago. I mean…why??? But seriously, there are a hundred things that could go here, but you all KNOW what I mean.

I was going to put a picture here, but I got rid of the books I thought had bad writing.

 Good writing

Bad writing is like nails on the chalkboard. Good writing is like hooked talons that dig into your chest and tear out your bleeding heart. Beware the feels and beware the life-changing revelations.

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To date, four books have made me cry and two of them are pictured here.

Flaky authors

Authors, don’t go and write two to-die-for books and then write 900+ pages of crap when we KNOW you can do better. Get your act together, damn it.

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Yes, Christopher Paolini, I DID lie to your face when I said I liked the ending.

Cannon fodder characters

You know those characters who show up for like half a scene and are sweet and eerily flawless until they’re gruesomely murdered for nothing other than shock value? I hate that.

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Well…can you deny it?

Cancelled sequels

How DARE set it up for another book and not follow through! Leave me hanging with loose ends and questionable ending. Not cool, man.

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There was “kind of” a resolution, but “kind of” not. Also, I just want another damn book.

Biased publishers

I could rant all day about this one. The thing is, it’s luck of the draw as to which authors get “picked” for promotion by publishers (this applies to the Big Six publishers especially). The vast majority of authors are expected to handle promotion on their own dime. Which means we don’t hear about the vast majority of books published!

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Only fan letter I’ve written in my life was to this guy and the publishers don’t share my enthusiasm. Bastards.

Biased bookstores

The thing is, stores like Barnes and Noble and about 97% of other bookstores (unless specified otherwise) only stock the bestsellers’ list. Seriously. It’s why I stopped going so much (besides being broke).

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Crappy photo, but these are two AMAZING books you won’t find in stores.

What are some of the things you hate about books? Do you relate to any of these? Let me know in the comments!

7 ways to identify a fantasy villain

If you’ve just started a new fantasy series and aren’t sure who the villain is, there are some easy ways to find out. Watch for a few key traits and if more than four show up in a character, you’ve definitely found the series baddie.

1. Miserable childhood

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Morgana Pendragon, basically the cover girl for Daddy Issues Monthly.

Fantasy villains cannot have happy childhoods—EVER. In the slim chance one or both their parents weren’t awful, said parent(s) must die a gruesome death, preferably with the young villain watching.

2. Anger management difficulties

Even if the character displays a cold, controlled exterior most the time, they cannot be a villain without an eventual angry outburst, usually in which they do something horrible and violent. Most likely, this results in the death of a character you really liked.

3. Ugly pets/minions

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A face only a villainous taskmaster could love.

Anyone who hires deformed, aesthetically challenged creatures no one else would even look at must surely be a bad guy. However, there is a loophole, so long as the beautiful minions are used for seduction-based intelligence gathering.

4. Racism/Elitism/Sexism/Religious purism/Some other nasty “ism”

The villain will probably be the most prejudiced character in the book. Genocide and lines such as “she’s only a woman” and “it’s my birthright” are dead giveaways.

5. Dysfunctional love life

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Xena and Drago. Some whacked out stuff going on there.

The villain must either a) have lost their soulmate which spurs them on this hellish crusade and/or b) have a long string of serial relationships to put Henry VIII to shame and/or c) wants someone who wants them dead.

6. Is secretly the protagonist’s father/sibling/miscellaneous lost relative

Assuming the villain did not kill the protagonist’s father/mother, then this one of the spot-on ways to identify him/her. Families suck and that is the moral of the story.

7. Creepy obsession with protagonist/protagonist’s love interest

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WTH Rahl? Do you have any idea how bad this looks???

If the villain and protagonist are of the opposite sex, the villain probably has a thing for him/her. If the protagonist is a girl, there will be some rape-y comments in there at minimum, same for a male protagonist’s love interest. The “we could rule the galaxy” speech may also come into play.

Did this list miss your favorite typical fantasy villain trait? Let me know in the comments!

Reading Outside: Does it even happen?

Summer is nearly over (sorry), school’s about to start up (so sorry), and that means less reading time for students, teachers, and pretty much everyone connected to education (so, so sorry).

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Here we have what appears to be the youngest Weasleys reading their family history on the potentially Nargle-infested lawn.

This summer, like others before, I have been baffled by aesthetic pictures of people reading happily on beaches, porches, hillsides, and in meadows. But something I’ve often wondered is if this phenomenon even occurs in nature.

To read outside where I live, you must brave not only the scorching Texas sun and varied array of violent insects, but also intermittent wind gusts. I’ve tried reading in hammocks, on porches, and under trees, but the only time it has worked is in the shelter of some non-picturesque wall over concrete. Even then, it wasn’t exactly comfortable. (My backside does not appreciate extended periods squished against cement.)

I know some people claim to do it, but do they really? I know it makes a good photo, but the subgenre of outdoor book photography is mostly false advertising.

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There would be a blinding glare on like half a page. She’s not fooling anyone.

Reading my Kindle outside has generally proven easier, just because of the light adjustment setting. But if I’m in bright sun, I’ve got bigger problems, like impending lobster face/neck/arms/shoulders/legs. Then, you’ve got birds and car fumes if you’re in the city and chiggers, snakes, and Lord knows what if you’re in the country. To be honest, I’m terrified of the wind blowing my book into the ocean at the beach. Not to mention sand gets into the spines and just…ick.

I’m not saying it’s impossible, I’ve just found it to be incredibly uncomfortable. Either way, I think this is definitely one of those “expectation vs. reality” things. I’ll stick to reading indoors with solid walls and air conditioning, thank you very much.

How to (legally) get free books

There have been times when I found myself torn between wanting books and wanting electricity. But if you’re willing to look, there are still lots of ways to snag reading material without breaking the bank or the law.

-Request an advance review copy from the author/publisher

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If you’re interested starting a book blog, most publishers will post sign ups on NetGalley where you can apply to receive copies of books to review. Indie authors are frequently searching for reviewers as well and will let you know on their websites/newsletters. For example, Erica Stevens gives the option for free review copies of new titles to all her newsletter subscribers.

-eBook freebies

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You can read eBooks on your smartphone via the free Kindle app and it opens up a cornucopia of possibilities. Lots of indie authors (and traditional publishers) have started giving away eBooks as promotional copies. There are lots of options here. You can sign up for newsletters like Bookbub, keep an eye out for mention of promotional days on an author’s social media, check on their website to see if they have any freebies, or go to Amazon’s “free” category in your favorite genre.

-Best Sellers in Teen & Young Adult eBooks
-Best Sellers in Christian Fantasy eBooks
-Best Sellers in Fantasy eBooks
-Teen & Young Adult Medieval Fiction eBooks
-Teen & Young Adult Sword & Sorcery Fantasy eBooks
-Asian Myths and Legends eBooks
-Arthurian Fantasy eBooks

-Read to review

There are Goodreads groups, Facebook groups, and co-ops that arrange free books for folk in exchange for reviews. While I don’t have any specific ones to recommend, they are out there and I know some people have had good experiences. However, this can be a bit of a toss-up as far as quality, though Goodreads does offer regular giveaways.

-Libraries

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While I do generally prefer being able to keep my books forever and ever, the vast selection and options are amazing. Be sure to check here first if the book you want is traditionally published. Even if the library doesn’t have the book you want, they can sometimes order books through partnerships with other libraries. It never hurts to ask!

Just in the course of getting all the links together for this post, I have more than ten new books for my ever-growing TBR. There is an almost endless supply of books out there, just waiting to be read and in this digital age, plenty of them are free!

So go forth, fear not for your wallets.

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Things you DO NOT need to be a “good” character

It’s probably a bad idea to watch a movie with me. When I watch movies, I tend to criticize the character development and the writers’ standardized methods of relaying a character’s “strength.” I do it with books, too, there’s just usually no one around to hear me griping at my Kindle. There are five things that especially bug me, hence I have decided to whine about them in a blog post accompanied by Taylor Swift GIF’s because everyone likes Taylor Swift.

A temper

Tempers are not awesome. It is one thing to have righteous anger over injustice or cruelty, but quite another to overreact and resort to violence. Writers moved away from this one for a while, but I’ve noticed it coming back—mainly in female characters because men and women should be held to different moral standards (not).

A long list of ex-lovers

Some of my favorite characters of all time are, shall we say, romantically prolific, but the fact remains that being desired and/or sexually active are not the hallmarks of a strong persona! It’s okay to not have a significant other or regular one-night stands, but you wouldn’t know it by the way mainstream media handles it. Tay❤️

Modern literature and film seem to think it makes a character interesting, relying on sex as a plot device rather than using something crazy, like a storyline. There are plenty of shows I could list where if the writers weren’t allowed to incorporate sex involving the main characters, they would run out of material in about two episodes.

A tragic backstory

Tragic backstories are about as common as mud. I have used them quite often myself, but lacking some horror in your past does not make you any less of a character or your input to the story any less valid. Despite this, characters without tragedy in their pasts are usually portrayed as the naive innocent that gets killed first or gruesomely victimized, but that’s just a sign of lazy writing.

A set of fighting skills

I prefer for my own characters to have fighting skills (because fight scenes allow my inner ninja to play), but they aren’t necessary to a solid character—male or female. I wish I could find more portrayals where it’s okay to not be a warrior, but it’s been becoming rarer, especially in fantasy books.

A postmodern mindset

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It may sound like a contradiction to some, but it actually is possible for one to believe in traditional gender roles without being sexist. It’s also possible to firmly believe in one’s own religion as the sole truth without hating others and I could go on. However, the characters who are more traditional in their views are generally cast in a negative manner, which is a travesty, because it is an incomplete picture of what real people with similar opinions are actually like.

And that wraps up my rant for the month, but there’s plenty more where that came from. 😉

(As a side note, if you guys can think of any fantasy books that defy these tropes, I’d really like to hear about them.)

Post-Mission Report: Spring Break 2015

17342700Day #1
Monday began with a rude gesture to the alarm clock as I slept in. Eventually, I dragged myself out of bed to complete my weekly running ritual in case I ever do find that blue police box.

The rest of the day was invested in writing (I refuse to tell you what) and as soon as I met my daily word quota, I turned to reading Gathering Darkness (Falling Kingdoms, #3) by Morgan Rhodes. I laughed, I cringed, I freaked, I fangirled—and I didn’t even finish it.

Day #2
As the sun set, I had once again bested my dread word count quota. After completing the last few chapters of Gathering Darkness, I reached for The Well of Ascension (Mistborn, #2) by Brandon Sanderson. I had missed Elend and Vin and I was delighted to see them again—sweet babies that they are.

Day #3
On this day, I had to get up at the ungodly hour of 6:30. Can you imagine? 6:30 on a vacation?

However, it proved to be worth it. I spent the morning getting the Key of Amatahns uploaded, proofed, and approved for Amazon and began setting up the celebratory blog hop. I was even able to meet my daily word count quota on The Project That Shall Not Be Named.

That night, I stayed up with my adoptive children Vin and Elend past 3:55 a.m. There were three armies attacking at once—I had no choice.

2115046Day #4
I made more progress with The Project to Which I Shall Never Confess. There was a minor panic attack somewhere in there over something, but I can’t remember what it was.

I finished The Well of Ascension at 2:50-something in the morning, then spent a bit of time too scared to turn out the lights because of the creepy being that showed up at the end.

When I finally did get up the courage, I laid there in bed, feeling depressed. How the hell could I ever hope to write as well as Mr. Sanderson? That guy’s a bloody genius.

Day #5
I started the very adult Epic Fantasy, Anomaly of Blaze (The Fireblade Array, #3) by H.O. Charles. This endeavor was interrupted by a great deal of arguing, yelling, and general mayhem as my mother and brothers attempted to get the house presentable for a playdate.

Despite everything, the playdate was a success and I made friends with their classmate’s three year old sister, who seemed to think I was cool for some reason.

24860279Day #6
Saturday came with packing in preparation for our move and more panicking, but when we were done, everyone else went out to watch Kingsman and I was left at home because they knew better than to drag me out in public.

I worked on my word count and paced around the house, enthusiastically quoting Khan, Ravenna, Morgana, and some of my own villains. I find that practice oddly therapeutic. (Had the neighbors heard, I’m sure they would be moving right now, thinking that they were living next to a psychopath.)

Day #7
We went to church and then lunch, where we discussed politics over Bulogi wraps and green tea. After a delightful time watching Cinderella, we all went home before I departed for my father’s house where I fooled around on the internet and did more work on That Which Must Not Be Mentioned.

As you know, honor demands that all homework be completed as late as humanly possible. At 1:00 Monday morning, I began to work on an assignment from two weeks earlier. Hopped up on caffeine, I managed to get it done before crashing into bed and thus ended my Spring Break of 2015.