Ten Characters I Just Didn’t Click With…

toptentuesday2

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is : Top Ten Characters You Just Didn’t Click With. I actually found this really difficult because I rarely dislike characters enough to remember them!

1. Thomas from The Maze Runner Series by James Dashner

image from mazerunner.wikia.com

image from mazerunner.wikia.com

I don’t know if this is because I didn’t enjoy the series, or if I didn’t enjoy it partly because of Thomas’ character. I just found him to be completely unrelatable. He never questioned his role as leader despite being the new kid, he refused to listen to anyone else throughout the series, and his lack of meaningful relationships with other characters meant that I struggled to figure him out as a character.

2. Tally from the Uglies Series by Scott Westerfeld

I just found her really irritating and it was difficult to understand her obsession with becoming ‘pretty’ (which I guess was the point). I actually like this series, but more for its ideas than for Tally as a protagonist.

3. Toby from the Geek Girl Series by Holly Smale

His obsession with Harriet and the way he follows her around all the time and knows all this weird detailed facts about her life is just plain creepy…

4. Clary from The Mortal Instruments Series by Cassandra Clare

image from shadowhunters.wikia.com

image from shadowhunters.wikia.com

Admittedly, I have only read the first book and half of the second, but I just don’t get on with her as a protagonist. There’s just nothing there to grab my attention.

5. Rose from The Catalyst by Helena Coggan

She’s a very typical ‘spunky heroine’ type and I didn’t connect with her on an individual level.

6. Seraphina from Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

As I’ve mentioned before, I struggled to get to know her as a character. She’s secretive in a way which makes the reader feel isolated and out of the loop which I didn’t enjoy.

7. Dan from Crow Moon by Anna McKerrow

I didn’t enjoy his narrative voice; he’s arrogant, selfish, and takes a lot of things for granted.

That’s it for this week. I really can’t think of any more characters I didn’t like enough to remember them for it. I’m sure when I start reading other people’s lists I’ll remember a few more!

Which characters did you struggle to make a connection with? Let me know in the comments or feel free to add a link to your own TTT post and I’ll give it a read!

Review: Asking for It by Louise O’Neill

asking for it

Publication date: 3rd September 2015

Publisher: Quercus Publishing

ISBN: 9781784295868

Source: uncorrected proof

It’s the beginning of the summer in a small town in Ireland. Emma O’Donovan is eighteen years old, beautiful, happy, confident. One night, there’s a party. Everyone is there. All eyes are on Emma. The next morning, she wakes on the front porch of her house. She can’t remember what happened, she doesn’t know how she got there. She doesn’t know why she’s in pain. But everyone else does. Photographs taken at the party show, in explicit detail, what happened to Emma that night. But sometimes people don’t want to believe what is right in front of them, especially when the truth concerns the town’s heroes …

A few months ago I read the fantastic, hard-hitting debut Only Ever Yours and was so excited to have discovered the refreshingly honest voice of Louise O’Neill. I couldn’t wait to see what she would do next, hoping it would live up to the standard set by her first novel. I couldn’t have hoped for more than we have been gifted with Asking For It, an astonishingly poignant story about rape and how we react to perpetrators and victims within our society.

Emma is not a character we would usually sympathise with. She is selfish and mean and shallow, traits encouraged by the pressure put upon her by her mother, and the expectations of her peers. This all changes when she is raped and filmed at a party and suddenly everyone she knows, and a great number of people she doesn’t know, is passing judgement on her behaviour despite the fact that she doesn’t remember anything from that night. For me, it is so important that Emma is not a loveable character; by making her into a stereotypical mean girl, O’Neill forces us to confront our assumptions about the type of person she is and whether she deserves everything that happens to her.

This book is not a comfortable read. Both the descriptions of the events of Emma’s rape and the attitudes of family and friends afterwards sickened me. I desperately wanted Emma to have a happy ending, if only for my own peace of mind, but if a quick-fix solution is what you’re expecting from this book you’re going to be disappointed. I appreciate O’Neill’s decision not to sugar-coat the situation and its effects as this makes the impact of the whole book and its message so much more forceful.

Put simply, Asking For It is heartbreaking in its unflinching honesty; it is a truly extraordinary book and one everyone should read. It is books like this which can help make a positive difference in the world.

#NotAskingForIt

Blogger Recognition Award

BR_Award

Something a little different today! I was nominated by The Book Goddess for the Blogger Recognition Award – thank you! So, without further ado, I’ll get right to it.

The Rules:

  • Select 15 other blogs you want to give the award to. Do some digging if you must! Find those blogs. You cannot nominate yourself or the person who has nominated you.
  • Write a post to show off your award! Give a brief story of how your blog got started, and give a piece or two of advice to new bloggers. Thank whoever nominated you, and provide a link to their blog. List who you’ve nominated in the post.
  • Make sure to also attach the award itself! (You can do this by right-clicking, saving, and uploading the image above).
  • Comment on each blog and let them know you’ve nominated them. Provide a link to the award post you created.
  • Provide a link to the original post on Edge of Night. That way, anyone can find the original guidelines and post if needed (here).

How my blog started:

I’ve been blogging on and off for a few years now, and this blog originally started out as a bit of a mixed bag. I posted anything that came into my head and focused more on topical posts than book-related posts. I found it very difficult to keep to a regular schedule and during my university years this blog was neglected for months at a time. I briefly moved to tumblr (thinking, I don’t know why, that it was a better platform for the type of blog I wanted to run…) but quickly returned here. In December 2014, I started posting about books more seriously and in January 2015 I took part in my first readathon which gave me the kick I needed to start posting more frequently and more regularly. I became a book blogger.

Advice for new bloggers:

Try to post a few times a week, but don’t feel pressured if you’re not feeling up to it. I still struggle with my blogging schedule sometimes; I work full time with long travel hours and sometimes lack the time and motivation for blogging. I’m trying to be kinder to myself about it – it’s not the end of the world, after all. This is supposed to be fun!

On a similar note, scheduling posts is your new best friend. I usually write a bunch of posts at once and then schedule them for the correct days which takes the pressure off when I’m tired or not feeling it.

I nominate: 

  1. The Galaxial Word
  2. The Wild Bookworms
  3. Caffeinated Bibliophile
  4. Life is Sweet in Books
  5. Chells and Books
  6. Books, Tea and a Onesie
  7. ItIsTrish
  8. Mrs Red’s Reviews
  9. Macarons and Paperbacks
  10. Lipsyy Lost and Found
  11. The Bookish Universe
  12. It’s All About Books
  13. Books Baking and Blogging
  14. Wrapped up in Books
  15. Bridget’s Bookish Blog

Author Spotlight: Sarah J. Maas

author spotlight maasSarah J. Maas is an author I only recently discovered. I had, of course, heard a lot about her and the Throne of Glass series, but had never actually read anything by her until earlier this year when I picked up the first book in her new series, A Court of Thorns and Roses, and promptly fell in love with her writing.

The Books:

The Throne of Glass Series

throne of glass

Celaena Sardothian is an eighteen year-old assassin who bargains her services in exchange for her freedom from imprisonment which would eventually kill her. She finds herself in the service of the crown prince of Adarlan and the history she begins to discover changes her life forever.

  • Throne of Glass
  • Crown of Midnight
  • Heir of Fire
  • Queen of Shadows (out next week, September 1st)
  • The Assassin’s Blade (collection of novella, originally published as ebooks)

It has been announced that there will be a total of six books in the series, excluding the novellas.

A Court of Thorns and Roses Trilogy

ACOTAR

Feyre is a huntress upon whom the survival of her entire family depends. However, when she accidentally kills a Faerie she is is thrust into a new world of magic and politics. Based loosely on the classic fairytale, The Beauty and the Beast, this is a wonderful new series with plenty of magic, danger and romance.

  • A Court of Thorns and Roses
  • Untitled 2 (expected Spring 2016)

Books I’ve Read:

  • Throne of Glass
  • Crown of Midnight
  • A Court of Thorns and Roses

Why I love Sarah J. Maas:

When I was a child I used to read a LOT of fantasy series and would choose fantasy over any other genre if forced to pick. As I got older and started having to read books for school and college and, later, university, I slowed down my reading for pleasure until I was barely reading at all outside of my studies. Since graduating a year ago, I have slowly been rediscovering reading and have rekindled my love for the fantasy genre. I picked up A Court of Thorns and Roses on a whim, unsure if I would like it because it appeared to be very romance-focused which is not something I usually go for. However, I was quickly drawn into the wonderfully complex plot and richly imagined world of the book and couldn’t put it down.

Unable to wait for the second book to be released, I decided to read the Throne of Glass series and checked the first two books out of the local library the next time I was there. Again, I was captivated by the complexity and rich details as well as the depth with which the characters are portrayed.

I love the fact that Maas writes ‘strong’ female protagonists so well in her books. By ‘strong’ I do not just mean kick-ass (although both Celaena and Feyre are certainly that!) but well-written. They are not perfect; they make mistakes, have unlikeable character traits, can be selfish and unkind and reckless and a hundred other things. That is what I love about the way Maas writes her characters; they are truly three-dimensional with motives and uncertainties and real emotions. It’s such a difficult thing to do well, but she does so.

Despite her drawing on fairytales as the inspiration for her books – something I’m usually a little wary of as I find fairytale retellings tedious at best – she uses these as mere foundations and builds layer upon layer on top creating new worlds and characters. The fairytale is there, visible in the background if you know what to look for, but the story is very much her own, and that’s the way it should be done.

Twitter: @SJMaas

Website: http://www.sarahjmaas.com

Other social media links: http://sarahjmaas.com/find-sarah-online/

Top Ten Auto-Buy Authors

toptentuesday2

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week we’re listing our top ten ‘auto-buy’ authors (authors you’ll buy any new book from regardless what it’s about). I have to say, I don’t think I really have many of these, so we’ll see how it goes…

1. J.K. Rowling – Do I really have to explain this one?

2. Robin Stevens – Author of the Murder Most Unladylike mystery series which I LOVE. I would probably auto-buy her future books until I find one I don’t like!

3. Patrick Ness – If it’s YA, then absolutely. I haven’t read his books for adults so I can’t comment on that, but I’d seriously consider any future adult works as well.

4. Louise O’Neill – I love love love what she’s doing right now! Both Only Ever Yours and the forthcoming Asking For It are fantastic and I’m looking forward to seeing what she does next.

5. Sarah J. Maas – although I haven’t yet read all of the Throne of Glass series (I’m getting there, ok?) she’s on my radar now!

6. Jandy Nelson – I love her writing and could genuinely read it all day every day and never get bored.

7. Melissa Grey – Her debut, The Girl at Midnight is one of the best books I’ve read this year and I can’t wait for the sequel.

8. Maria Dahvana Headley – author of the magical debut, Magonia. Ditto the above.

9. John Green – I like some of his books more than others, but either way I’m curious to see how he’ll follow the success of The Fault in Our Stars.

10. Moira Fowley-Doyle – author of The Accident Season. Another debut author, but one I want to see more from in the future.

I actually found this easier than I thought I would. I’m not sure I would absolutely auto-buy every book by these authors, but they’re all on my mental ‘ones to watch’ list and I’d have to have a pretty good reason not to give any future releases a try! The most exciting part of this list for me is the number of new/debut authors on it – I’ve had a great year for discovering new favourites and I’m looking forward to 2016.

Review: The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

troujlh

I was so excited when I heard that there would be a new Patrick Ness book this summer, and I emailed Walker Books who kindly sent me a proof copy!

ISBN: 9781406331165

Award-winning writer Patrick Ness’s bold and irreverent novel powerfully asks what if you weren’t the Chosen One? The one who’s supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death? What if you were like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again. Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week’s end of the world and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life. Even if your best friend might just be the God of mountain lions…An exceptional novel from the author praised by John Green as “an insanely beautiful writer”.

The concept behind this book really interests me as I have often thought about the minor characters in some of my favourite books (most notably Harry Potter, of course) and wondered what they might be thinking or going through whilst the protagonist is saving the world. This idea is often played out in fanfiction, but Ness takes it one step further, parodying the idea of the ‘chosen one’ with an epic destiny whilst telling the everyday stories which are no less important than saving the world. I like to read books which challenge the boundaries of writing, and this particular trope of the protagonist rushing in to save the day and being the centre of the narrative is one that we rarely question because, of course, excitement and extraordinary things happening are what makes a good story. In The Rest of Us Just Live Here, Ness successfully challenges the role of the protagonist; by sidelining all the crazy action and focusing instead on the fairly ordinary struggles of Mikey and his friends, he shows that every character has a story to tell.

One of the reasons why I really love Patrick Ness’ work is that I enjoy the way he tackles the big questions of the human condition. Who are we? Why are we here? etc. He also does a wide range of human emotions really well. I was not disappointed with The Rest of Us Just Live Here. Mel’s struggle with anorexia and Mikey’s issues with OCD are normalised in this book – in a positive way. Mikey has help from professionals, but he also has the unwavering support of his friends, particularly Jared, to help him manage his illness.

I enjoyed the throwback to classical literature with the chapter synopsis given at the beginning of each chapter; the subversion of this through detailing events that in are the periphery of the main storyline works really well.

This book is funny, knowing, sensitive, honest… and wonderfully written. A must-read!

The Rest of Us Just Live Here comes out in the UK on August 27th 2015.

P.S. If you really want to treat yourself, you can preorder a signed limited edition at Waterstones (it has sprayed edges and they’re yellow!) – click here.

Author Spotlight: Patrick Ness

Author Spotlight Patrick Ness

In case you hadn’t realised by now, Patrick Ness is one of my absolute favourite writers and with his new book, The Rest of Us Just Live Here, being released in just under two weeks time, I figured now was the right time to tell you all why you should read it, if you haven’t read anything by him before.

The Books:

The Chaos Walking series

the knife of never letting go

The Chaos Walking is a dystopian trilogy for young adults, set in the fictional town of Prentisstown, New World. Here, everyone can hear each other’s thoughts and the protagonist, Todd, has grown up believing this is normal. That is, until he finds a patch of silence from The Noise and starts to question everything he’s been told.

  • The Knife of Never Letting Go
  • The Ask and the Answer
  • Monsters of Men
  • “The New World” (short story)
  • “The Wide, Wide Sea” (short story)
  • “Snowscape” (short story)

A Monster Calls

Based on an idea from the late Siobhan Dowd, this is a lovely story about a boy who is struggling to cope with his mother’s illness. It follows the same structure as Dickens’ A Christmas Carol with the boy having three tasks/problems to overcome before he can move forward emotionally. This book made me cry – it was sad, but it was enjoyable sad, if that makes sense (?). I read the plain text version of this, but there is a gorgeous illustrated version, with illustrations by Jim Kay, which has been highly recommended by everyone I have spoken to about this book. There is also going to be a film adaptation set for release in October 2016.

More Than This

more than thisIn the first chapter of this book, the protagonist Seth drowns. Then he wakes up in a place which looks exactly the same as his old home, with one difference: he is completely alone. This is a wonderful, fantastically well-written book, which asks so many questions about what it means to be alive, among other things. This is my favourite of Ness’ books and is one of my go-to recommendations in my job as a children’s bookseller.

The Rest of Us Just Live Here

Every book has a hero, a chosen one with special powers or an epic destiny to fulfil. This books is about those characters who are not the heroes, but whose stories are equally as important. The Rest of Us Just Live Here will be released in the UK on 27th August 2015.

Note: Ness has also written books for adults: Crash of HessingtonThe Crane Wife and Topics About Which I Know Nothing (short stories), but having not read these, I will not be including them in detail in this post.

Why I love Patrick Ness:

I first came across his work when More Than This was released, but it was another year before I finally found time to read it (I had not been reading much for pleasure during my degree). After falling in love with the complexity and depth of his characters and narrative, I quickly moved on to The Chaos Walking Trilogy and finally read A Monster Calls earlier this year.

One of the most common ‘complaints’ I hear from adults about young adult fiction is that is is all conceptually simpler and written in more basic language than adult fiction. As an adult who essentially reads YA and children’s books for a living, this irritates me greatly*. Unfortunately, my job also requires me to be diplomatic… therefore, my answer to these people is nearly always to place one of Ness’ books in their hands in an attempt to prove them wrong. Ness writes boldly and honestly about a real human experiences and he is not afraid to tackle the big issues, covering topics such as gender, sexuality, mental health, the environment, war, love, death, religion… the list goes on. What I like most of all, though, is that he never appears to set out to write a book about a topic; rather, his books are about the characters and everything else is written in the context of their thoughts and experiences. As someone who loves character-driven narratives, this is a big plus for me.

Patrick Ness writes beautiful stories about wonderfully flawed characters and if you haven’t read anything by him yet then you’re missing out big time!

For more on Patrick Ness, see George Lester’s video below:

Website: http://www.patrickness.com

Twitter: @Patrick_Ness


*I admit that some YA is both conceptually and linguistically simpler than the majority of adult fiction, however, I could also say the same in reverse about some adult books. Blanket statements suck…