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Posted in Maggie Stiefvater, Review

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater [REVIEW]

I read this back in January but (eleven months later) suddenly decided to review every book I’ve read this year. So, here I am.

I am hopeless in love with all of the Raven Boys, especially Ronan. As someone who has just finished reading the entire series before writing this review, I can say that Stiefvater is phenomenal at foreshadowing.

Before I get to some actual points, I remember reading this book and expecting it would revolve a lot more around the ghosts and dead people and curses and prophecies. The blurb was about seeing dead people at the graveyard and killing your true love with a kiss, so I expected more of the plot to revolve around those things, or that they’d hold a larger role in the book rather than just the opening scene and a few mentions throughout.

 

+ The writing is perfect

I’m usually the kind of person who loves full paragraphs of description, but Stiefvater has a way of describing things where you almost don’t notice it’s happening. The details are subtly woven in and I could visualise everything perfectly in my head, just like a film was playing as I was reading the pages. The ‘box’ is a ‘cereal box’ and the car is an ‘orange Camaro’ and Ronan smells like ‘soap and deodorant’. It’s all these tiny details that really set the book apart from the rest.

Also, the book is written in third person, but the writing is so incredibly intimate to each character’s perspective. I felt connected to all of them, and I was completely engaged with the story. Although I wasn’t a fan of the head-hopping…

 

+ B l u e

In YA, girls tend to either be too soft or too strange or too sharp, either nothing at all or everything at once. Blue is interesting because she’s somewhere in the middle. She’s quiet and strong. She’s wants to impress the boys but refuses to stoop to impress. I love her way of thinking and how she’s matter-of-fact and nervous at times and sensible. She’s refreshing to read. I also love how she ended up with a secondary guy at the end of the book! I was expecting her and Gansey to become an item quickly.

 

+ I love the Raven Boys

I was going to say that they’re all equally amazing, but Ronan is my favourite and I have an extreme soft spot for Noah. Noah is the invisible one both literally and metaphorically, a boy who doesn’t speak much and seems to hurt and lost and just needs a hug. Ronan is rude and sarcastic, but he has a caring side and is just so alluring – he’s the kind of character that I need to know everything about, but he’s so secretive. Gansey is the Mom Friend and has a heart of gold and is wise beyond his years. Adam is my least favourite: my opinion now is possibly heavily influenced by the other books, but I don’t like how he treats Gansey, and he has so much baggage and is abused and I get it, and he’s still so incredibly well written. I am in love with all four of them.

 

Some additional points: the supporting cast is amazing, I love the dialogue, there’s so much foreshadowing and (SPOILER) there’s so many hints about Ronan not being straight that no one picks up on and it’s hilarious.

 

Overall, I love these characters. I love this book. I love this series.

 

Some quotes, because I love quotes:

  • “She wasn’t interested in telling other people’s futures. She was interested in going out and finding her own.”
  • “Gansey had once told Adam that he was afraid most people didn’t know how to handle Ronan. What he meant by this was that he was worried that one day someone would fall on Ronan and cut themselves.”
  • “Fate,” Blue replied, glowering at her mother, “is a very weighty word to throw around before breakfast.”
  • “She recognized the strange happiness that came from loving something without knowing why you did, that strange happiness that was sometimes so big that it felt like sadness.”
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Posted in Heart, Updates, Writing

NaNo 2018 Review

As the month of NaNo has ended, I thought I’d do a little review post about my writing experience for those thirty days. For this blog, I’m going to be answering a group of questions from Paper Fury’s ‘Beautiful People’ tag! The complete list of questions will be at the very end of the blog.

Let’s begin!

 

  1. On a scale of 1 (worst) to 10 (best), how did the book turn out? Did anything defy your expectations?

In terms of writing 50000 words, my novel went great. In terms of those being good words, my novel went horribly. I know that people say the whole point of NaNoWriMo is to just write something, but the content of that first draft just makes me want to never write again.

 

  1. Comparative title time: what published books, movies, or TV shows are like your book? (Ex: Inkheart meets X-Men.)

I was thinking about this a lot while writing and came up with a little list of some books that I think are similar to Heart in terms of style and some of the themes that the story explores:

  • Holding Up The Universe by Jennifer Niven
  • Undone by Cat Clarke
  • Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
  • Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland

 

  1. Do you enjoy working with deadlines and pressure (aka NaNoWriMo)? Or do you prefer to write-as-you’re-inspired?

I love deadlines until it comes to writing. I work great under pressure until it comes to writing. I love these things because they give structure to my life, but they just don’t work at all with writing.

 

  1. How do you go about editing? Give us an insight into your editing process.

As soon as the first draft is complete, I’ll pull up the document and put it on one side of my screen and put a blank document on the other. I like to basically rewrite the entire novel as a starting point: it helps me remember what actually happened in the story and it’s easy for me to pick out things that work and things that don’t. As I rewrite, I’ll take notes about small things like character appearances and ages (and anything else in the story that needs to remain consistent!) and fix them if they suddenly change. After rewriting the first time, I’ll go back to fix individual scenes or rearrange sections, then I’ll go and rewrite the entire thing again.

 

  1. What aspect of your story needs the most work?

I think the entire structure needs work. I wrote this draft a lot faster than I usually write so it’s extremely messy. Subplots disappear halfway through. There is a huge amount of plot holes. The characters seem to time travel at points because I forgot to keep track of when things happened.

 

  1. What aspect of your story did you love the most?

Ryn and Asher’s friendship and how it develops, and I love them more than any other friendship I’ve written. At first, I thought it would be easy to push a romance between them, but I think I like the idea of a romance-free book as there seems to be a lack of true and genuine friendship in contemporary YA fiction.

 

  1. Give us a brief run down on your main characters and how you think they turned out. Do you think they’ll need changes in edits?

Ryn is morbidly pessimistic, blaming the world for his problems. He would probably see past the anger if he could still… well, see. Asher sees the good in everyone, probably best since she blocks out what mean things everyone says about her. Not by choice, but she does it. I’m currently very happy with the characters and how they developed throughout the novel, but I think their individual storylines and subplots (those ones that disappeared halfway through the draft) need resurrecting and improving.

 

  1. What are your plans for this novel once you finish editing? More edits? Finding beta readers? Querying? Self-publishing? Hiding it in a dark hole forever?

Hiding in a dark hole forever sounds extremely tempting, but I think I’m leaning towards a publishing route. As much as I’d love this to be my first traditionally published book, I think the process of acquiring an agent and querying would take a while (if it does happen) and I’m too desperate to put this story out into the world, so I think it’s likely that I’ll be trying to self-publish as soon as editing is complete.

 

  1. What are your writing goals and plans for 2019?

Edit. Edit. Edit. I’d love to be able to self-publish Heart at some point in 2019, maybe around the time when the story is set, but I’m so in love with the story that my perfectionist tendencies will take over and I’ll spend months making sure that every detail is perfect before anyone can read it.

I’ve just remembered that I made a video and a blog about this question at the end of last year and I’m pretty sure that I haven’t achieved any of my goals.

 

In the comments below, let me know how your month of writing went!

 

Complete list of questions:

  1. On a scale of 1 (worst) to 10 (best), how did the book turn out? Did anything defy your expectations?
    2. Comparative title time: what published books, movies, or TV shows are like your book? (Ex: Inkheart meets X-Men.)
    3. Do you enjoy working with deadlines and pressure (aka NaNoWriMo)? Or do you prefer to write-as-you’re-inspired?
    4. How do you go about editing? Give us an insight into your editing process.
    5. What aspect of your story needs the most work?
    6. What aspect of your story did you love the most?
    7. Give us a brief run down on your main characters and how you think they turned out. Do you think they’ll need changes in edits?
    8. What are your plans for this novel once you finish editing? More edits? Finding beta readers? Querying? Self-publishing? Hiding it in a dark hole forever?
    9. Share a favourite snippet!
    10. What are your writing goals and plans for 2016?
Posted in Heart, Updates, Writing

NaNo 2018 Updates

Beautiful People’ is a project created by a book blog that I love (Paper Fury), aimed at writers. They used to post a list of ten questions for people to answer every month, designed to help you get to know their characters – their quirks, their flaws, their personality, and who they are. Occasionally, there are groups of questions aimed at the writers and their writing progress, rather than just what they’re writing about. In this case, it’s inspired by NaNoWriMo!

For this blog, I’m going to be answering a group of questions. I believe that this is the November 2016 group and I’d love to see everyone else’s responses to these questions. I’ll put the complete list of questions at the very end of the blog.

Let’s begin!

Continue reading “NaNo 2018 Updates”

Posted in Heart, Tags, Writing

‘Your Story’ Tag

It’s currently National Novel Writing Month and, as I am participating in NaNo this year, I thought I’d dedicate all blogs and YouTube videos I make this month to my current project. This week I’m going to be doing the ‘Your Story’ tag, which I currently can’t find the creator of. If I do find them, I’ll update this blog.

This story is called ‘Heart’ and it owns my heart.

Let’s begin!

Continue reading “‘Your Story’ Tag”

Posted in Heart, Tags, Writing

All About My NaNo 2018 Project

It’s currently National Novel Writing Month and, as I am participating in NaNo this year, I thought I’d dedicate all blogs and YouTube videos I make this month to my current project. This week I’m going to be doing the ‘Work In Progress’ tag, which I currently can’t find the creator of. If I do find them, I’ll update this blog.

This story is called ‘Heart’ and it owns my heart.

Let’s begin!

 

What is the working title of your book?

It’s called ‘Heart’. I have no idea why I called it that, but it’s probably going to be the final name.

 

Where did the idea for your book come from? Who or what inspired you to write the book?

I’m mashing these two questions together because they’re basically asking the same thing.

I’m not entirely sure how all the pieces fell into place, but it started with thinking about how there’s been a surge of mental health representation in YA fiction, but I still hadn’t read anything about physical ‘illnesses’. I’m not saying these stories don’t exist, I’m just saying that I hadn’t and still haven’t read one or seen one blow up across the book community. I decided I wanted to write about someone who was blind and how that would affect their life. I wanted to write about someone who was deaf and how that would affect their live. I wanted to put them together and watch them become friends.

 

What genre is your work in progress?

Young adult contemporary fiction.

 

Choose the actors for your movie rendition.

Any actor I have in mind is too old. It’s a book about teenagers, and I’d want them to be played by teenagers, rather than just people in their twenties pretending to be younger. I live in a bubble and have no idea which teenage actors are about right now.

 

One sentence synopsis of your book.

(Two because I’m a cheat.)

Asher and Ryn are forced to form a bond after becoming partners in group therapy as a desperate attempt to bring some light into their lives, starting with writing letters to each other. No one expected a third letter.

 

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Publishing is the biggest dream of mine, but I don’t think I’m ready. I’m currently too focused on education and want to get that out of the way before I start to work on my publishing journey. But ‘Heart’ will more than definitely be self-published.

 

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I’m still in the first draft phase, but I’m hoping to complete the draft (or at least make a significant amount of progress) by the end of NaNoWriMo.

 

What other books would you compare the story to?

Maybe ‘Eleanor & Park’ by Rainbow Rowell. Maybe ‘The Fault In Our Stars’ by John Green. I’m going to compare them in terms of style and themes, but that’s as far as the comparisons are going to go.

 

Do you have a work in progress right now? Tell me about it in the comments!

Posted in Personal, Writing

Writing With A Mental Illness

Many writers (and creative people in general) struggle with mental illness, myself included. And it’s not as charming or helpful or inspiring for our work as some people try to make it seem. At the very least, writers are often stereotyped to be depressed. And I’m not joking when I say that there are people out there in the world who believe that creatives have to be mentally ill in order to create some kind of art. My opinion, in one word, is just… no.

Writing while being mentally ill (from my experience) is occasionally borderline impossible. On a good day, it can be incredibly difficult. It’s not fun and it makes you feel like quitting or missing out on opportunities or not enjoy something that you truly love. It’s a fight to keep going, and sometimes you just need support. Being stigmatised or told you’re ‘broken’ or that you should be mentally ill because you’re a creative are some of the worst and least helpful things.

So, from the experience of a writer with a mental illness, here are some things I do to keep me writing.

Continue reading “Writing With A Mental Illness”