People have been asking about my favorite books of the year, so I figured this would make it easy. It’s a few days late, but there was one I started reading in 2012 and wanted to finish so I could put it on the list! Caveats: I know several of these authors but I wouldn’t tell you I liked something if I didn’t. And if your favorite isn’t on the list, I probably just haven’t had a chance to read it yet. (I’m always looking for recommendations!) Oh, and these are books PUBLISHED in 2012, no older books I read in 2012, however great they were.
Someone on Twitter asked me my opinion on New Adult, and I figured it would be easier to talk about with more characters to use, so here I am!
So. Okay. First, I am NOT AN EXPERT or anything. And I am only speaking for MYSELF. Here are my random thoughts:
1) I absolutely 100% support people writing whatever they want to write, and readers being able to access what they want to read.
2) I do not think any person or genre has a RIGHT to space, a separate section, special labeling, etc. in bookstores or libraries. Publishing is a business.
3) I think the phrase “New Adult” sounds kind of funny, honestly, and I’m not sure I would know what it meant if I saw it in a vacuum. (Or, more to the point, if I walked into a bookstore and saw it without having heard of it first.)
4) But back to PUBLISHING IS A BUSINESS. There needs to be customer demand. I am not OPPOSED to New Adult sections in bookstores or libraries, but I think people saying “You should give us this because we deserve it” or “because it’s the right thing to do” is silly. It will happen if/when bookstores think it will make them money. That’s it. End of story. The world is not fair. Publishing is not a charity devoted to Promoting Literature or anything. That’s just not how it works.
5) I DO agree that it is good to find ways to help people find the books they are looking for, but again, special labeling etc. just doesn’t come into it unless/until the demand is there. Given that reality, it’s probably better to focus on other ways of growing the readership/demand, like review blogs, recommended reading lists, etc.
6) PERSONALLY, I did do a lot of reading for fun as a college student/early 20s person, and the idea of wanting to specifically read books about people my age never once occurred to me. I had to deal with people my age all the time! So I find this idea of needing to read about “people like me” in general to be very foreign. I often want to read about people who are very DIFFERENT from me, because that is one of the things I like most about reading. BUT AGAIN, I am IN FAVOR of people reading whatever they want!
I hope that made some sense!
Merlin’s Keep by Madeleine Brent has all the hallmarks of a traditional Gothic - a young woman alone in the world, a big mysterious mansion, rich people with secrets, a murderous husband - but it also has an interesting historical setting and a half-Indian, all-badass heroine. Jani speaks several languages and communicates with animals and travels the world scandalously alone and will be having none of your nonsense, and I LOVE HER. One warning: There are some unfortunate colonialist attitudes toward Asian cultures; they can be partially explained, though of course not excused, by the fact that the book is a bit older. But there’s also a frank look at racism in England, and several characters who simply won’t allow it to be displayed in their presence, so that’s something. Other than that, there’s rollicking adventure and creepy suspense and swoony romance, and it’s quite a good time.
(Note: the title and book have nothing to do with the mythological figure of Merlin. It’s referring to the bird.)
I need some time to… absorb this… but whoa. Whoa. WHOA.
Okay, I wrote the above immediately after finishing, and now I’ve slept on it and it’s the next morning, so I’ll try to be a little more articulate. THIS BOOK IS SO GOOD. I almost don’t want to say ANYTHING because I want you to be SURPRISED by everything, but let’s just say that the concern I’ve seen about THE NAME OF THE STAR wrapping things up too neatly to allow for more books is NOT something you should be worrying about. There is PLENTY MORE that can happen to Rory and company. This book both CONTINUES the stories of the first book and adds some NEW ELEMENTS that make the world of the Shades of London even more fascinating. I had completely intended to go to bed early last night, but I could not stop reading. It made me laugh and cry and broke my heart. In a good way. You know.
(Disclaimer: Obviously I can’t claim to be unbiased, but everything above is completely sincere.)
Last night I FINALLY finished 50 Shades of Grey, so now I will answer your questions. I DO THIS ALL FOR YOU.
Is it any good?
Is it as bad as I have heard?
Yes. Well, no. It’s probably worse.
Look, I feel like a lot of the outrage about this book is missing the point. (Except the part about the fanfic connection, but more on that in a bit.) I honestly don’t care about the sex one way or the other. I don’t tend to read a lot of erotica, but I don’t avoid books with sex in them, and … well, first, there was actually not that much sex in this book - none at all for about 200 pages - and the sex wasn’t particularly more outrageous than the sex in many mainstream books I can think of. And second, all of it, including the sex, was JUST SO BORING because the writing was SO DREADFUL.
Several people have told me that they know this book is terrible but found it entertaining. And that’s fine! I find terrible things entertaining all the time. I have Radio Disney among my presets in the car, and that Jodi Picoult Lifetime movie starring James Van Der Beek made me SO HAPPY. But to me, personally, this was not entertaining. It was just boring and terrible.
One PARTICULARLY bad thing was that Ana is supposed to be a modern 22-year-old college graduate who has never had a computer or an email address. WHAT. WHAT?!?! (And, while she’s not rich like Christian, she’s not presented as from a disadvantaged background or anything, so it’s not that she or her parents couldn’t AFFORD a computer.)
Did it CHANGE YOUR LIFE?
Um … well, it made me bond a bit with a new friend who also just read it, because I kept throwing down the book to DM her outrageous lines. Does that count?
Is it visibly Twilight fanfic?
Yes. Yes, absolutely. So much of it is exactly the same - Ana works in a hardware store, for goodness’s sake! And there were in fact several times when I found myself thinking “This would make SO MUCH MORE SENSE if Christian were a vampire.” But Twilight is actually MUCH BETTER WRITTEN than this. Also, as someone who has read a fair amount of fanfic but no Twilight fanfic, there were several tropes in this book that I recognized as common in fanfic in general. So … that was kind of interesting.
(As I said, I don’t care about the sex, but I DO care about theft of intellectual property, so this is where I think the book is morally suspect. WHY ISN’T STEPHENIE MEYER SUING HER? WHY? And if you’re wondering, I borrowed this from someone who purchased it, so I managed to read it legally without actually spending money on something that seems a bit fishy to me, morally.)
Did you read the whole series or just book one?
Just book one. While I usually try to finish series, I … I just can’t. Unless someone comes up with a way to reward me for it. I’d keep reading if someone were paying me or something.
How grammatically incorrect are all 3 books?
Well, I just read the one, but … fairly. Though not the WORST grammar of any book I’ve ever read. The writing was just BAD more often than it was INCORRECT.
What was your favorite part?
Like in a serious way, or a “THIS IS SO INSANE WHY IS THIS HAPPENING?” way? In a serious way … umm. I kind of liked the scenes with Christian’s family. I mean, for certain relative values of “like.” They all seemed more interesting and likeable than him or Ana, certainly.
In a “THIS IS SO INSANE WHY IS THIS HAPPENING?” way, it would have to be when Ana is emailing with Christian, thinking he’s across the country, and he comments on her drink because HE HAS CREEPILY FOLLOWED HER ON HER VACATION AND IS IN THE RESTAURANT, WATCHING HER. At this point, I had to pause in my reading to demand of the friend mentioned above why this was not considered a psychological thriller rather than a romance. (It would have been better as a psychological thriller.)
How did you stand it?
Well, it took me months because I could only manage to read a little at a time. But I just made myself do it. I pretended it was absolutely required homework, basically.
What gave you the emotional fortitude to finish? Why didn’t you just throw it against the wall and give up?
This is similar, but: Even though I absolutely did not enjoy reading this, I felt very strongly that I wanted to have read it. Because everyone I know knows I love books, and especially now that I work for an author, whenever I’m at parties or making small talk in the office or anything, people ask me about whatever hot book topic is making headlines. And since I also feel very strongly that a lot of entertainment seen as “girly” (including Twilight itself, actually) gets criticized extra-harshly, I wanted to know firsthand that this was really as bad as people said. Basically, I try not to let myself state uninformed opinions.
More questions, anyone? I could do this all day.
Libba Bray’s new book The Diviners comes out in a week, and I highly recommend it. It’s set in the 1920s, a time of great social upheaval, and combines with interesting looks at race/class/gender/sexuality/etc. issues of the time with a rollicking supernatural mystery. It’s also got romance, a flapper heroine everyone underestimates, a good bit of humor, and many characters to whom I got very attached. For context: The blend of supernatural and historical aspects reminded me a bit of Gail Carriger’s books, and I think fans of The Name of the Star would definitely enjoy this one as well.
Why should fans who preordered (or bought during release week) be left out of contests? They shouldn’t! Post a picture of yourself with your copy of Unspoken (yes, on your eReader counts!) and tag it with #hotblonddeath. I’ll randomly pick one of you to win a $10 gift certificate to your online bookstore of choice. You have until September 18 for this too. Go go go!
I’ve always been fascinated with the lost colony of Roanoke, so I was very excited to read Gwenda Bond’s new Roanoke-themed YA novel Blackwood, and it did not disappoint. The book is set in modern Roanoke, but when people start disappearing, it’s clear that there’s a connection to the island’s history, and teens Miranda and Phillips, both descendants of important figures in Roanoke’s past, must figure out what’s going on in time to save their island and the people they love.
The novel’s take on what caused the original disappearance was not what I expected, but it provided for a fascinating plot, and Miranda and Phillips are both great leads. (Yes, there’s a bit of romance, but they’re more concerned with NOT DYING most of the time.) Miranda’s home life has been troubled, and she uses genre TV shows as an outlet, which meant that there were tons of references to shows I like, including The Vampire Diaries, Fringe, etc. This made the book even more fun, and the way the characters talk about the shows and use them to help deal with their lives is one of the most realistic treatments of pop culture consumption I’ve seen in fiction.
(Disclaimers: I got my copy through NetGalley. I’ve chatted with Gwenda a bit on Twitter and I’m friends with her agent, but I would not tell you I liked something I didn’t!)
Heat Rises is the third Nikki Heat mystery “by” Richard Castle (main character of the ABC show Castle), and surprisingly enough, this series has been steadily improving. The first two were okay enough by novelty tie-in standards, but this one is actually a readable mystery on its own terms. They either got a better ghostwriter or the ghostwriter’s writing has improved, both technically and in terms of the complexity of the plot. This one was much more compelling and less predictable than the first two. As always, there are lots of fun references to Castle, Firefly, etc. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it to people who don’t watch the show, but it’s a decent read and a good way for Castle fans to tide themselves over until the show returns next month.
So there have been a few articles lately (and a few articles in the past… there are always articles about this) about how ladies are ~*DOMINATING*~ YA literature. I kind of hate that word in this context? It implies force and superiority to me. IDK. I’m not going to link the articles here because…
I don’t necessarily agree with every detail here, but this is a very important read! Go read it!