Posts Tagged ‘Fantasy’

I recently decided that I’m a coward when it comes to reading. I’m not adventurous, or brave, or intrepid in any way at all. Instead, I often stick to the same genres, same authors, same series, etc. I am one of those people who read the same book over and over and over, but (to quote from You’ve Got Mail) do I do it because I like it, or because I haven’t been brave?

In my book marketing class the other day, we were discussing the efficacy of book blurbs on the back cover…do we buy books based on the description? I answered yes, of course, but the truth is that I buy books based on whether I’ve heard of the author, read another book by that author or in that series, and whether I like the genre of that book.

I honestly don’t often venture into the Fiction section of the bookstore or the library. I stick to the areas I know: fantasy and science fiction, YA, cooking, mystery, etc. I like these sections, but I think it’s more because I am overwhelmed by the number of books and authors I don’t know in the fiction section. I’ve been reading the other books for so long that I’m familiar with many of them, and I feel comfortable there.

I don’t know why I’m so reluctant to venture forth from my tidy little hobbit hole of reading habits. One of my favorite things about the library is that I can bring a book home, read five pages, and then return the book if I dislike it. Part of it, I think, is that I started reading very young and read several books that I shouldn’t have read until I was older. I read The Color Purple, for example, when I was in fifth grade – way too young to be reading about the subjects covered in that book – and so now I have this fear of somehow reading something that will traumatize me.

Which is just silly for a grown woman. I read a fantasy book recently where the main character has a very vivid nightmare about being raped, and I stopped reading. Apparently I’m one of those people who cannot handle the harsh realities of literature. Fiction is too “real” for me.

But I’m going to try harder to venture out of my comfort zone, to try and read books by authors unknown on subjects as yet unexplored. I owe it to myself, and to the authors, and to the art of writing – books aren’t always meant to be cozy and happy. Sometimes we all need to read something unfamiliar and uncomfortable, and it’s those kinds of books that help us most to grow. I don’t remember a lot of the books I read in childhood, unless the plot disturbed me in some way, and I think I remember those books because they taught me something or made me think. Which isn’t a bad thing at all…so why have I been avoiding it?


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Last year, my friend Kyle and I gave each other lists of 10 books to read over the summer. Here was his list for me:

1. Cry, the Beloved country-Alan Paton
2. Battle Royale-Koshuea Takami
3. Starship troopers-Robert A. Heinlein.
4. Kafka on the shore-Haruki Murakami
5. The city of dreaming books-Walter Moers
6. The painted Veil-W. Somerset Maugham
7. The Forsyte Saga-John Galsworthy (Just the first one. totally stand alone.)
8. I capture the castle-Dodie Smith
9. Open Secrets-Alice Munro
10. Portnoy’s Complaint-Philip Roth
11. Underworld-Don Delillo
12. To say nothing of the dog-Connie Willis

And here was mine for him:

1) Notes from Underground by Dostoevsky (Fic)/
2) A History of Love by Krauss (Fic)
3) A Wizard of Earthsea by Le Guin (Sci-fi) (first in a series, but a great stand alone)
4) Paradise Lost by Milton (Epic Poem)
5) Tell Me by Addonizio (Poetry)
6) Whale Talk by Crutcher (YA)
7) Lolita by Nabokov (Fic)
8 ) She Who Is by Johnson (Non-fic)
9) Tangerine by Bloor (YA)
10) The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley (Sci-Fi)

I think reading lists are great – you can learn a lot about someone and their literary taste from the reading list they might provide. Plus, then you don’t have to worry about what you’re going to talk about when you next see your friend, because you can talk about the books! Go forth and make your own lists!

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I loved this book, Graceling by Kristin Cashore, but this trailer leaves something to be desired. Regardless, though, still enjoyed it. 😛

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I know it’s probably pretty naive, but I still love the books with happy endings. Robin McKinley, Diana Wynne Jones, and Brian Jacques all do happy endings.

So what’s up with teen books getting more depressing? I just bought The Hunger Games, because it’s intriguing and the reviews are very good, but the truth is that I’m not sure I want to read abook where so many people die. I read a book called Thirteen Reasons Why, about teen sucide, and I had to wonder – what’s happening in teens’ lives that they want to read about all these depressing subjects. Are they so unhappy they want to read about people in similar situations? Are they so un-hampered by worries that reading about other people’s horrible experiences is new and escapist?

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not one of those people who thinks difficult subject shouldn’t be in kids’ books. In fact, one of my favorites, Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher, deals with racism, child abuse, and alcoholism. But lately even the fantasy creatures are dark and scary. I like the talking cats and sorcerers and dwarves and friendly dragons in the Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede. I don’t like the vampires, werewolves, and zombies of current YA books.

So when I read the article “Fat Vampires, Sexy Werewolves, and the Future of Teen Reading” I was disappointed. I might be in the minority, but I’m going to pray for more uplifting teen books, and hope that happy endings return to literature.

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First, I just want to say that I approve of the trend lately of making 3-d movies. Coraline was amazing, and one of the few original movies I have seen in a long time.

How to Train Your Dragon wasn’t very original at all – it was actually a very predictable tale of how a bright outcast makes friends and eventually gains the respect and trust of both his father and his community. I think kids like these outcast to hero tales because we all feel a little out of place sometimes – like no one respects us and no one cares. But the animation of this movie, and the amazingly diverse characteristics of the dragons really made the movie.

And I’m actually amazed how many kids movies have a romantic theme – when I was that young, I wasn’t thinking of getting a boyfriend, I was more worried about my soccer team. So the romance between the main characters, Hiccup and Astrid, comes across as a little forced – more for parents than for kids.

But the Vikings’ island and their gruff personalities are appealing, and the dragons’ dilemma is exciting for kids. I actually want to read the book now, because I’m sure the book is better than the movie (per usual). So, all in all, this movie is worth seeing – plus, the 3-d effects of the dragons flying around and above the audience = AWESOME!

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I love science-fiction and fantasy, so I was really excited to hear that the Hugo Award nominees have been announced.

I was disappointed, however, to see that I have read almost none of the nominated titles! SO, I have decided to give my own award for best novel, best graphic novel, best movie, and best TV show.

The best novel for 2010: Graceling by Kristin Cashore (technically a YA novel, but awesome!!)

Best graphic novel: Here I agree with one of the nominations, and I think Fables Vol. 12: The Dark Ages should win. Fables and Y the Last Man are probably my favorite graphic novel series.

Best movie: Again, I agree with one nominee and think that Star Trek should win. I also really enjoyed Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, but I guess if you grow up with a series like that there’s always going to be a little bias in your heart.

Best TV show: I really like Doctor Who but I think I actually want to award Supernatural. I think this show is so fun! X-Files is still probably my favorite sci-fi show, but Supernatural has partly filled the gap.

So there you go. Debate as you will.

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For my Book Marketing class this term, I’ve decided to create a book trailer. I’m one of those people who always wants to be at the movies early so I won’t possibly miss any of the trailers, because I really like trailers and I am often impressed by how they are cut and manipulated from the movie footage to show just enough of the story to be intriguing.

My trailer will be for the YA book The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley. This is one of my top five favorite books, and definitely my favorite McKinley book, though Spindle’s End and Beauty are also amazing (especially if you, like me, enjoy the retelling of fairy tales).

So I wanted to get an idea about how to do a book trailer. I looked at several, including The Graveyard Book , The Hunger Games, and The Lightning Thief.

From what I can tell, the best book trailers do the following:

1) Don’t usually show real people. I’m guessing that this is to distinguish the book trailer from movie trailers, to not hinder people’s imaginations, and to make production costs less.

2) Flash the cover of the books repeatedly. This is to make sure that people will remember the cover and buy it when they see online or in stores.

3) Offer much more text to read than movie trailers. Sometimes this text is also narrated, but sometimes there is just epic music.

I even found this site, which will probably help me: How to Create the BEST Book Trailer EVER.

Now, I will start storyboarding. Wish me luck!

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