Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Female Assassins Are So Fetch

Female assassins. It just sounds good, right? It sounds like bad ass, feminist candy. It sounds like my new favorite trope.

In actuality I have only read three YA books with female assassins but I love them all and therefore raise them up into magnificence.

 Graceling by Kristin Cashore 

1. Fantasy

As soon as I realized my love for female assassins I also realized that they were all fantasy. Which makes sense...in a way. In order for women assassins to be sensationalized in a culture that culture has to be pretty restrictive to women. And since fantasy usually takes place in a medieval setting this is set up nicely. Also, assassins mostly go after people in the royal court or royal family. Bam! Fantasy.

However...all of these girls are "special" because of the effects of their fantasy world. Katsa is born with the extraordinary skill to kill and survive. Ismae is marked by Death and trained to be his handmaiden. Caleana may seem like your regular deadly assassin but with her mysterious past there is undoubtedly something fantastical lurking under the surface.

So is it really that feminist? Hard to say.

2. Levels of Girliness

As I said before I love all three girls, dearly. They just rubbed me the wrong way sometimes.

Katsa. Girliness Level: -2
It isn't how she dresses, or keeps her hair short or her intolerance of most men. It really isn't. It is the fact that she rejects everything female, to the point of denouncing marriage and children. A lot of people have problems with this and Cashore has received some grief on the subject so I'm not going to go on and on.

It's just hard to fully connect with  a "strong female" who doesn't even like being a girl. In my opinion Katsa is a bit too extreme but, hey, that's her choice and her personality so I respect it.

Ismae. Girliness Level: 5

LaFevers has a wonderfully balanced female character in Ismae. She loves being so capable and even loves making all those arrogant men pee their pants a little. She enjoys the freedom of being less feminine. YET. Yet she doesn't lose her femininity. She still appreciates dressing up and looking nice and bonding with other women.

As a girl I admired Ismae's strength and skill without losing camaraderie with her. I could see myself in Ismae, in her vulnerability and struggles to do the right thing.

Calaena. Girliness Level: 9
My, my, isn't Calaena snarky and whip smart! I loved her confidence and even, at times, her arrogance.

Mix this superior attitude with atypical longing for material things and beauty though and I have middle school flashbacks. Did Calaena need to be so materialistic? Did she need to use her beauty as her weapon? Maybe not but that is her character and while it didn't sit right with me at times I still liked her.

In summary: Katsa is too manly, Calaena is too girly and Ismae is just right. God, I sound like a horrible feminist right now but I'm just being honest. Some psychological introspection is probably needed but there is my opinion. (this post has some great points)

3. Court Intrigue

Dear God, I love court intrigue! Perhaps it stems back to Shakespeare and Chaucer but it is so satisfying to follow the dramas of the high and mighty. Us peasants just don't have those big, society altering dilemmas very often. Add assassins to the mix and everything gets so deliciously complex that my fragile heart can barely take it.

It is so cathartic somehow. And it's the classic "wow, my problems look so puny and easy compared to these peoples". Also it's the "even though this is no way resembles my problems I definitely feel this way, this character totally understands".

(this post is getting so articulate as it progresses)

4. ...IN SPACE

It is a truth universally acknowledged that every plot gets better when your add "in space" to it. My favorite is pregnant teenage boarding school in space.

So you can probably guess what is on my Christmas Wish List this year. Yep, FEMALE ASSASSINS IN SPACE.

Can anybody do me a solid and write this?

Now that would be fetch.

Please comment with your thoughts on female assassins, especially if you disagree with me or have something new to add :)

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Nerd Life is So Much Better Than Real Life

For real. First things first.... 

Firefly (and Serenity)

Wow. How did I avoid seeing this for so long??? I really can't say enough good things about this too shortly lived tv show and it's follow up motion picture. After deciding to be more fiscally responsible I cancelled my little used Netflix subscription. So it was about time to watch that sci-fi show that is recommended to me every time I watch Doctor Who (which is very often). And, oh boy, it's fantastic delicious genius. It's part science fiction, part western, part comedy, part mystery, part romance, part crime show, part everything.

Long story short, you gotta watch it.

Leaky Con LitDay

Two days. TWO DAYS. My brain doesn't comprehend.

It's just hitting me that John Green is going to be there. I will be in the same room as him, hear him spout brilliant funny awkward things, for two days. This is going to be epic. Here are two of my favorite quotes from him:

“Saying 'I notice you're a nerd' is like saying, 'Hey, I notice that you'd rather be intelligent than be stupid, that you'd rather be thoughtful than be vapid, that you believe that there are things that matter more than the arrest record of Lindsay Lohan. Why is that?' In fact, it seems to me that most contemporary insults are pretty lame. Even 'lame' is kind of lame. Saying 'You're lame' is like saying 'You walk with a limp.' Yeah, whatever, so does 50 Cent, and he's done all right for himself.”

“Lucky Charms are like the vampires of breakfast cereal. They're magical, they're delicious, they're a little bit dangerous and bad for you. They initially make you feel great, but then over time you realize that maybe your relationship with Lucky Charms is just a little bit unhealthy and you start to think, 'Maybe I don't want to be in a long-term relationship with a breakfast cereal that tastes delicious but damages my health.' But then the Lucky Charms gets all stalker on you and for some reason you kind of like that. It makes you feel special. So yeah, you spend your life with Lucky Charms. That's awesome. That's a great way to... get diabetes.”

The Domestic Rebel

This dessert blog by a very cool girl named Haley is where I get my sugar, girly, colorful, venting fix. I might be making assumptions, but if her amazing glasses are any indication she is proud nerd/awesome human being. Haley makes such creative yet simple treats and every recipe blows my mind. The best part is that they are all so easy, many utilizing box mixes and such. Unlike most food blogs where I dismiss a majority of it as too complicated I feel like I could tackle every delicacy of Haleys. Also every recipe is preceded by her beautiful ranting, so funny and relatable. Give her some love! 

Book to Move (Trailers)

There are so many great movies coming out in the future and a good chunk of them were originally books. Yay literature!

This trailer for Cloud Atlas (Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Ben Whishaw, Jim Sturgess, oh my!) is BY FAR my favorite. I cried the first time I saw it and never grow tired of it, even after watching it, oh, 20 times. My library copy is begging to be read. The day that I get to watch this on the screen will be pure, uncontained bliss.

Another winning combination: the director of The Kings Speech with Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway. All of the singing was done on set, pure and sweet, no auto tuning or mixing. If this teasar is an indication this is going to be an instant classic.  

 I couldn't resist including Gatsby. Baz Luhrman, check. Leonardo Di Caprio, check. Carey Mulligan, check. Awesome music, check. Visually and emotionally stimulating, check. I hope this brings about more classic remakes, not gonna lie that would be stupendous.

Are you nerding out with me? Anything nerdy or awesome to share?

Monday, July 23, 2012

Random Pining (Pinning?)


I suck at consistency and lately this blog has fallen down the priority list.

I would feel a lot worse if it wasn't for the fact that I am sticking to my writing goals for the first time (out of November that is). Update: I just hit 60,000 words in my current draft


For some people that would be "haHA finished!" but for me it's like "What the hell I'm not even 1/3 done??? This book is a) going to be a bitch to publish and b) going to weigh as much as a very sturdy newborn child."

Oh, guys....But no complaining! Time for SHARING. Thanks to Pinterest (find me here!) and the tide of life I have tons of random stuff to share.

1. I have recently discovered the majesty of mug cakes/brownies/cookies that you make in the microwave. I love baking and this is baking for the lazy, plus portion control! Win/win! My favorite I've tried is A Cup of Coffee Cake SO GOOD!

2. Recently I finished the Throne of Glass e-novellas and fell in lit-love. Sarah J. Maas is such a great new talent and I can't wait for the main book to come out on August 7th. But in the mean time there are four novellas to enjoy: assassins and pirates and empires and pretty dresses and a swoon worthy guy and plenty of attitude and angst.
The Assassin and the Desert (Throne of Glass, #0.2)The Assassin and the Pirate Lord (Throne of Glass, #0.1)

3. Pinterest may be a more evil time suck than Facebook but it can be productive! I have boards for my Work In Progress and my Set Your Mind Alight Board. This is where I put the images that inspire and intrigue me. What is the story here? Where does this take place? What secrets are there to unearth?

Here is a small selection:
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4. Why not some music? Mix it up, eh?

This song by Fun makes me want to rock out and cry all at the same time. So catchy and so eloquent!

This is the perfect summer song. When I listen to it I just want to hang with friends, sip a fruity drink and let the worries slip away.

5. In complete hypocrisy of that last song I am going to be getting an iPhone soon. Yeah. I am 90% excited and 10% embarrassed. I used to make fun of iPhone owners, all the time! As long as I don't loose hold of reality I'll be good. Hey, look at these adorable cases from Case Mate:

Case-Mate Peacock - Silicone iPhone 4 / 4S Case
Case-Mate Xing - Silicone iPhone 4 / 4S Case
6. Lastly, Corgis right? They are everywhere! As usual I am on top of the trends (ha!), I've been obsessed with Corgis for years. So more of them I say. More more MORE!

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What have you obsessing over late? Any new discoveries?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A Literary Love Story: The Lumatere Chronicles by Melina Marchetta

During my mini vacation from blogging I, well...

I fell in love.

I fell in love with the Lumatere Chronicles by Melina Marchetta.

Finnikin of the Rock, the first book in the trilogy, was suggested to me by the lovely Vanessa in the comments of my Hipster Book List. I happily took her advice and looked it up on Goodreads. So many raving reviews! I got it from the library and soon found myself completely and utterly taken. A true marker of my love is that I immediately bought my own copies. I am stingy, this a BIG DEAL.
Finnikin of the Rock (Lumatere Chronicles #1)

Here is the synopsis of Finnikin:

At the age of nine, Finnikin is warned by the gods that he must sacrifice a pound of flesh to save his kingdom. He stands on the rock of the three wonders with his friend Prince Balthazar and Balthazar's cousin, Lucian, and together they mix their blood to safeguard Lumatere.

But all safety is shattered during the five days of the unspeakable, when the king and queen and their children are brutally murdered in the palace. An impostor seizes the throne, a curse binds all who remain inside Lumatere's walls, and those who escape are left to roam the land as exiles, dying by the thousands in fever camps.

Ten years later, Finnikin is summoned to another rock—to meet Evanjalin, a young novice with a startling claim: Balthazar, heir to the throne of Lumatere, is alive. This arrogant young woman claims she'll lead Finnikin and his mentor, Sir Topher, to the prince. Instead, her leadership points them perilously toward home. Does Finnikin dare believe that Lumatere might one day rise united? Evanjalin is not what she seems, and the startling truth will test Finnikin's faith not only in her but in all he knows to be true about himself and his destiny.

In a bold departure from her acclaimed contemporary novels, Printz Medalist Melina Marchetta has crafted an epic fantasy of ancient magic, feudal intrigue, romance, and bloodshed that will rivet you from the first page

Marchetta writes the most believable, realistic fantasy I have ever had the pleasure of reading. I cried, I gasped, I laughed, I wept. I felt grief and joy and anger and hope and triumph. It was everything, everything.

I could gush for hours (the Goodreads reviews have some epic gushing, so go there if you want more!) but that would be self indulgent. So I have decided to concentrate my love. I asked myself these questions: what is it that I loved most about Marchetta's story telling? What elements do I want to include in my own writing?

1. Emotion. For me emotion is the hearts blood of any story. I can not get into a story if I am not emotionally invested, it is impossible. Marchetta had me going "Oh, Evanjlin!", "Oh, Finnikin!", "Oh, Froi!", etc. every few pages. This is a hard story to read, and I imagine it was a hard story to write. These characters feel so fiercely because of the pain they have been forced to bear and the hope they have chosen to keep alive. I truly ADMIRED these characters, I wanted to befriend them and help them and protect them. I am dedicated to them, I have an intense emotional attachment to them. This has only happened to me a handful of times before. Marchetta deserves applause for this.

Froi of the Exiles (Lumatere Chronicles, #2)

2. Redemption. Oh, boy, do I love redemption. Finnikin and Froi of the Exiles have redemption in spades. And I don't mean revenge or good conquering over evil. So many characters are perceived as bad or selfish or reckless or heartless. As a reader I was ashamed of their actions, their words, their beliefs. But Marchetta always turned that around. Here are two great quotes from Finnikin that reflect this:

"Everything is evil that humans can't control or conquer."

"There are worse things than a lie and there are better things than the truth!"

The ambiguity of "goodness" is a lesson I took away from these books. Everybody has a story, everybody has regrets and everybody has a reason for why they do things (and its not always logical). Thanks to Marchetta my belief in human goodness, kindness and perseverance has been reaffirmed. She deserves awards and bricks of gold for this.

3. Secrets. There is mystery in these books, even in the most unexpected places. Of course I don't want to give any of this away. But as a fervent reader I can see plot twists a mile away (the end of  Insurgent by Veronica Roth? Called that in the first book)...most of the time. I was honestly shocked in both of these books. Marchetta fooled me many, many times. She deserves her own castle or small country for this.

My goal is to make every person who reads this go out and read these books. They have shot to the tippy top of my favorite list, without a doubt. Trust me, guys, you will not regret it!

Quintana of Charyn, the highly awaited third book, isn't released in the US until March 2013. However it is coming out in Australia in late September. For the first time ever I am going to hand over as much money as necessary to get a foreign edition of a book. I am as DEVOTED to this series as I have ever been to any book.

Quintana of Charyn (Lumatere Chronicles, #3)

Are you enticed to read the Lumatere Chronicles? Have you ever had such a strong affective response to a book or series?

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Inspiration: Freakin' Adorable Edition

I haven't updated this blog in FOREVER. Honestly, I don't have some great excuse as for why. I've just been reading great books and writing a lot and marveling at how boring my life has been lately.

So I think some squeal inducing baby animals are in order. What about you?

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What's up? I was just born yesterday. Wanna hang?

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So fierce!

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Every shade of huskie puppies :D

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My eyes say "stuffed animal", my brain is screaming "it's real! holy crap, it's real!"

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Dream big. Future Olympian?

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Charismatic little fellow, huh?
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I had to finish with a corgi! I mean, come on, look at that face!!!

I hope this brought your moment of zen today ;D

In your opinion, what is the cutest baby animal?

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Lit Day Ecstasy

I have known about this for over a month now and haven't said anything. Which is saying something because I am not a quiet person!

*drumroll please*

I am going to LeakyCon 2012's Lit Day.

*epic gates of heaven opening music*

I have never been to a book signing or conference or anything. Hell, I haven't been to a concert since I was 13 (American Idol tour. No. Joke). Despite being a Nerdfighter since 2007 I have never gone to a gathering or a tour event.

You know that game Never Have I Ever? I ALWAYS win. Now is the time to remedy that!

If you're wondering "What the heck is Lit Day?" or "Where can I sign up for this majesty?" please mosey on over to this lovely page here.

This is the part where I start fangirling. Because I am going to meet...
Maureen Johnson
Maureen Johnson. Bestselling author, Twitter goddess and who has been promised to be the most eccentric person I will ever meet.

Stephanie Perkins
Stephanie Perkins. The best YA romance writer there is with awesome hair and a soul that is made of puppy sized elephants. I already claim her as my best friend. I call dibs!

Laini Taylor
Laini Taylor. Soon to be canonical writer of YA fantasy, wearer of pink locks, owner of my dream life in the Pacific Northwest and creator of an adorable daughter whose middle name is Pie. 'Nough said.

And last but not least...
John Green
John Green. You heard me right. Printz award winning writer, epic vlogger, creator of online communites and all around awesome person.

These are the attendees I am most excited about but make sure to check out the link above to see what other amazing writers, agents and industry professionals will be there.

If you are also going to Lit Day I would love to hear about it. How cool is it, not only that we are going, but we could meet each other?!?!

If not rest assured that come August I will be posting plenty of pictures and stories and most likely more fangirling. I already have a Stephanie Perkins tribute video along the lines of this in the works. Its bound to be a bit creepy but hopefully it will be mostly funny.

If you were meeting any of the epic people who are going to be at Lit Day how would you react? What would you say to them? What kind of questions would you ask them?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Writerly Resources

Until recently I didn't have much in my writers toolbox. I read a lot of books, I'm an English major, what else is there? I had the blinders on.

Then last month I had my eyes opened wide. There are so many things out there that I had no idea I needed!

Think of it like this: you up and decide to build a skyscraper. First you need to learn about architecture and physics and safety and costs. You need materials, you need to find people to help you, you need to get investors. If you went into building this skyscraper blindly you wouldn't get very far. It would be falling apart, dangerous and possibly the shortest "skyscraper" ever to bear the name.

Writing is the same. You need to do your research, you need support, you need practice.

Here is a list of resources that I couldn't do without.

I randomly clicked on a link to this site and I am so glad I did. This is a blog about writing, books and the industry. The lovely ladies at the Pub are authors, agents, editors and book sellers. Every week day they dispense advice and insight and recommendations. An absolutley invaluable wealth of knowledge. Love love love.

I credit this collection of essays with altering my mindset on writing. From brain storming, to drafting, to editing, to publishing its all covered here. Laini (one of my favorite authors/people I have never met but I will do anything to remedy that) describes everything in a way that absolutely sets my mind on fire. Ever read one of her books? Yeah, its more of that poetic majestic goodness. Her writing fills me with a burning need to write. Literary aphrodisiac???

Here is where support comes in. If you write YA, plan to do so or just really love YA you need to join this site. Whether you're looking for a critique partner, need help on a tricky scene, want information on contests or want to promote your blog its all here. I am really excited for the day I get to participate in some of their agent contests. Every one is really nice and helpful and super talented. Join up immediately!

Admittedly when I first discovered this blog I was scared out of my freaking mind! Who knew queries were so hard and met with such judgement? I sure was blind. But the more I read the better I felt about queries in general. People submit queries to be critiqued and are given chances to revise until its perfect. Being able to watch that progression really helps me wrap my mind around it. I'll no doubt be on this site an excessive amount when I write my first query.


If Laini's how to is a little too abstract for you or if you just want another opinion this has you covered. Ness is a genius award winning writer for adults, teenagers and children. He sets out the steps in a very logical and straightforward manner. When I saw that his daily writing goal is only 1000 words I felt relieved. It is always nice to know that the talented and successful people find it hard too right? His discussion of voice and pacing I also found very helpful. Another great tool.

Okay, okay, I'll admit it: this is the only book on writing that I have read cover to cover. Eep. I know, I'm naughty like that. Come on guys its Stephen King! The literal king of our diverse literary world. Part of the reason I love this book so much is because its part memoir, his life was so interesting (he lived in the same town that I go to college!). The stories that relate to his writing and his journey to becoming Stephen Freaking King will connect with everyone. I take his advice very seriously. 

What are your favorite writerly resources? Is there something that completely changed your outlook on writing? What couldn't you do without?